On Wednesday, New York City officials unveiled a plan for a new freight network designed to “restructure freight distribution and reduce over-reliance on diesel trucks.”

The “Delivering Green” plan would provide $38 million in new funding to support water freight and sustainable last mile solutions to reduce the number of diesel trucks operating in the New York City.

The plan was put forth by Mayor Bill de Blasio, the New York City Department of Transportation (DOT), and the New York City Economic Development Corporation (NYCEDC).

“DOT estimates that truck traffic across the Hudson River has increased by over 50% between January 2020 and September 2021. Without action, the increase in freight demands will result in tens of thousands more trucks crossing into the city every day, while the city’s network of streets and bridges remains fixed. Such unchecked growth in truck delivery is simply untenable—for communities, streets, and the environment,” New York officials said in a news release.

Officials say that while 90% of New York City goods are currently moved by truck, the plan offers short-term and long-term solutions to move more freight by water, rail and by other more sustainable modes of transportation, including cargo bikes and other small, green vehicles for last mile deliveries.

“As our demand for freight continues to increase, we cannot continue the historic mistake of relying on more oversized and polluting diesel trucks to handle the load,” said DOT Commissioner Hank Gutman. “They destroy our infrastructure, damage the public health and quality of life in our neighborhoods, clog our already overcrowded streets and hasten climate change. We must change course. We have developed a thoughtful blueprint for the next five years to do just that. We are laying out a vision to reclaim New York City’s original highways — our harbor and rivers — to bring goods into the city and shifting to cargo bikes and other small, green vehicles to complete the journey to our doorsteps.”

The “Delivering Green” plan lays out five specific goals to reduce the number of diesel trucks traveling in New York City:

  • Make the Last Mile More Efficient  — Promote off-hour deliveries and expand Neighborhood Loading Zones. In addition, the plan promotes programs to consolidate the delivery of goods to one location for multiple recipients, and micro-distribution spaces where deliveries can be transferred to sustainable methods of transportation for the last mile to recipients.
  • Green the Last Mile  — Support the transition to zero-emission truck fleets, help shift goods off trucks and onto commercial cargo bicycles, and explore other sustainable small delivery methods. 
  • Create a Culture of Compliance  — Seek federal funding to implement technology to improve truck rule compliance, while also bolstering industry education and outreach.
  • Shift Freight from Road to Water — Create opportunities for marine freight movement by modernizing marine terminals, expanding waterfront access to maritime shippers, and supporting private sector marine highway initiatives.
  • Shift Freight from Road to Rail — Increase diversion of freight from trucks to trains by expanding transload facilities in the city and modernizing key freight rail assets.

“The New York region needs a better way to move goods, plain and simple. On this, there is overwhelming consensus. We must end our over-reliance on trucks that clog and destroy our roads, make the cost of doing business and consumer goods more expensive, harms our environment, raises childhood asthma rates, and creates safety and national security vulnerabilities. Today’s announcement of New York City’s freight vision, which will involve making key investments in maritime and rail infrastructure to create a sustainable distribution system is an important step in addressing this very serious problem. One such key investment, is the recent announcement by US Department of Transportation of a $1.5 million federal grant to the Red Hook Container Terminal (RHCT). This grant will enable RHCT to make modifications to their barges to move tractor trailers by barges between Brooklyn and Newark, and it is exactly the type of investment we must do to create a green and sustainable freight network for the 21st century,” said U.S. Rep. Jerry Nadler.

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